Valley fever is non-contagious, so you can not catch it from someone else. Fungus that grows in the ground causes it. When something stirs up the soil, spores from the fungus fly into the air, where people breathe them in.
Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)
Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is an infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides (kok-sid-e-OY-deze). The fungus is known to live in the soil in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico and Central and South America. The fungus was also recently found in south-central Washington. People can get Valley fever by breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air, although it is non-contagious.Usually, people who get sick with Valley fever will get better on their own within weeks to months, but some people will need antifungal medication.
Valley fever is caused by :
Valley fever is caused by a person inhaling spores of certain fungi. The fungi that cause valley fever — Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii — live in the soil. It’s named after the San Joaquin Valley in California.
Like many other fungi, coccidioides species have a complex life cycle. In the soil, they grow as a mold with long filaments that break off into airborne spores when the soil is disturbed. A person can then inhale the spores.
The spores are extremely small and can be carried far by the wind. Once inside the lungs, the spores reproduce, continuing the disease cycle.
Symptoms of Valley Fever
Many people who are exposed to the fungus never have symptoms. Other people may have symptoms that include:
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Joint aches and muscle soreness
- Red, spotty rash, mainly on lower legs but sometimes on the chest, arms and back
In the most serious cases, the infection moves beyond the lungs into other parts of the body.
The possible effects include skin sores that are worse than the rash, painful, swollen joints and meningitis which is an infection around the brain and spinal cord.
There’s no vaccine. But if you live in or visit a region where valley fever is a possibility, it helps to take common-sense precautions, such as:
- Avoid dusty areas, such as construction sites
- Stay indoors during dust storms, and keep the windows shut
- Avoid activities that put you in contact with dust and soil, such as yard work and gardening
- Filter the air inside your home
- Use your mask.
These steps are particularly important for people who are at high risk.